Friday, 10 November 2017
Real Socialism, you know the one that’s never been tried, has been on my case of late, in the form of a solitary soldier for the cause. This sturdy representative of the Socialist Party of Great Britain was not to be deterred by mere facts, observations of human nature or simple argument. Even their total national vote count in the low hundreds wasn’t a cause for despondence against the shiny-faced optimism of this paragon of the merry, but tiny, band of post-Marx idealists.
Founded in 1904, their single aim is to bring about world socialism, believing that while any form of money exists, those who possess it will always reject the common way and seek to better their own lives. The SPGB mission statement is bold and simple: “The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.” And when I say simple, oh my, relying as it does - and can only do – on the total buy-in of every person on the planet; it’s all or nothing, folks.
Oh, communism, you say, to which the ‘Socies’ will reply, huffily, that they are not communists, no matter how much they stress common ownership, common good and the root word community (from the Latin communis – except Latin is bound to be elitist and thus haram.). But whither the ‘real socialism has never been tried’ malarkey? Try citing the failure of the many so-called socialist regimes and they will denounce them all as ‘state capitalism’, perhaps recognising that without capitalism you have little incentive for progress, yet still rejecting the profit mechanism out of hand..
But while sharing and charity and general philanthropy are very much a part of the human character, being forced to give away what you have hard-earned to those who have done nothing to deserve it is anathema to practically every species on the planet. We compete, we improve, we evolve; under ‘real socialism’ we would presumably revert to an imagined former state, possibly as far back as the Garden of Eden, which makes a belief in the ability to live as true equals without measuring relative merit more like a religious cult than a serious political movement.
In this they have much in common with Corbynism. (Will Corbynism one day join the Moonies and the Branch Davidians as examples of the lunacy of closed communities?) Of course, under True Socialism, our worth will be assessed and our contribution determined, measured and shared out via the mechanism of centralised control of resources and ‘self-defined’ needs. That is, if you decide you need it, you must need it, because nobody would ever cheat, would they?
Even such ideologues as this must recognise the need for organisation and as such would have to convene committees and tribunals, cooperatives and all that entails; selected, elected members of the community who would serve only in the interest of that community and be responsible for ensuring the egalitarian administration of resources. So, ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ as somebody once wrote. I can’t imagine how that could possibly go wrong.